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From our FNQ Correspondent: Does Leichhardt hold the keys to the Lodge?

(First published on October 19, 2007)

John Pratt, an active Webdiarist, has volunteered to keep Webdiary up to date on the election campaign in what may be one of the crucial seats. Thank you for this report, John, and we look forward to more news from the front.

The Federal seat of Leichhardt is in Far North Queensland. It starts just north of Gordonvale, extends north along the Coast between the Atherton Tablelands and the sea, including Cairns and the tourist coast up to Mossman, before spreading out to include the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York north of the Mitchell River. It covers 150,366 sq.km, more than twice the area of Tasmania.

It is being contested by ten candidates. It is one of the seats Labor will need to win to gain government. The seat of Leichhardt is one of five in Queensland in which the Nationals and Liberals are standing candidates against each other.

The sitting liberal member Warren Entsch is retiring; the new liberal candidate is Charlie McKillop, his former media adviser. Charlie's passion was writing - she commenced a journalism cadetship at the Central Queensland News in Emerald. Charlie returned home in 1995 to work on the Cairns Sun. After four years Charlie became Media Adviser to Warren Entsch. She has worked with remote indigenous communities, and fought alongside North Queensland prawn fishing families against restructure their fishery.

The Labor Candidate is Jim Turnour. Jim lives in Cairns with his wife Tiffany and baby Zoe. He has a farming background and hold degrees in Agriculture and Economics. He has worked in business and government and recently managed a large project for the Department of Primary Industries assisting farmers recover after Cyclone Larry.  Jim received a special commendation from Prime Minister Howard and Queensland Premier for this work.

The Greens Candidate is Dr. Sue Cory, a Cairns-based medical practitioner involved with mind performance counselling. 

The National Candidate is Ian Crossland, a prominent Cairns car salesman.

The Family First Candidate is Ben Jacobsen.

Nominations have not closed, and already several independents have nominated including Selwyn Johnston, a c omputer systems analyst and Editor of The Countryman' Newspaper. Selwyn was mentioned previously on Webdiary in Roslyn Ross’s piece Too precious to privatise.

 Norman Miller is a local pastor with close links to the indigenous people of Leichhardt.

 Yesterday (I must declare my bias here) I was asked by the Labor party to attend and support Jim Turnour at a lunch organised by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Cairns & Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), the Leichhardt candidates' forum on climate change.

 After an introduction by Don Henry, Executive Director of ACF, who described the dangers of climate change, candidates from the major parties the Greens, Labor and Liberal, along with Family First, National and an independent candidate Selwyn Johnston were each given five minutes to state their position on climate change. This was moderated by Professor Steve Turton from JCU.

 The candidates where then asked questions from a media panel who included Pat Morrish from ABC Radio and Caitriona Murtagh from the Cairns Post.

 The audience was then allowed to ask questions of the candidates.

 After this the ACF gave the following assessment.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s first assessment of the main political parties’ climate and environment policies gives both Liberal and Labor a score below 50 per cent.

The scorecard rates the policies of the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, the Democrats and Family First on climate change, water and the environment.

“While Labor has committed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Coalition hasn’t, in total the major parties are failing on climate change and the environment,” said ACF Executive Director Don Henry.

“Modest or weak climate change policies, a poor performance on forests and a lack of action on water and sustainable cities means both major parties have low scores.

“We are hearing a lot of talk and not seeing enough action on climate change from both major parties.

“The Greens and Democrats and scoring well, while Family First’s scores are poor.

“All parties and candidates should be in no doubt climate change will be a huge consideration when Australians vote on 24 November.”

The lunch was an excellent way to meet all the Leichhardt candidates and to gather information on their debating skills as well as their commitment to action on climate change.

Its is a long way to go until election day and I am sure climate change will play a big roll in who wins in Leichhardt. I hope to keep Webdiary informed as the election draws closer.

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Jim Turnour the new member for Leichhardt fresh ideas for OZ

What a week, I spent the last few days driving around Cairns towing a huge sign Vote for Kevin Rudd and Jim Turnour. It has been very hot and humid. Yesterday was a scorcher, I arrived at the polling booth at 6am to guard the Labor positions and put up the signs. The people of Edmonton came early to beat the heat. The queue  was nearly 500 metres when the door to the booth was opened. Labor volunteers far out weighed the Liberals and Labor had lots of support from the unionist in their orange "Your rights at work" t-shirts. Unfortunately the Greens had no one handing out how to vote cards but a large bundle was left at the gate for Greens voters who wanted a how to vote card. By 11am I was sunburnt and looking forward to my relief. The feeling at the booth was there a swing towards Labor which gave me some encouragement as I left for lunch, a shower and tried to get an hour or so sleep before I returned to the booth at 3pm. The weather had changed - storm clouds were gathering, the temperature had dropped and the queues had shortened. I had spoken to Jim Turnour and Charlie McKillop at the booth. Jim was looking confident and Charlie was looking desperate.

When the booth closed I put on my scrutineers card and watched the count begin. The green boxes were emptied on the table and a dozen or so people began the count. Soon it was obvious that the pile for Jim Turnour was larger the that for Charlie McKillop my hopes became reality and we had phone messages to say Labor was in front and Howard had lost his seat. The counting continued. The count when I left the booth was total votes cast 3829 Jim Turnour, had 1717 and Charlie McKillop had 1385 the Greens had 117. We rang the figures through to the tally room and Jim claimed the seat of Leichhardt. A victory for FNQ and a victory for Australia. I went home totally exhausted but with a glow of satisfaction in my heart.

To John

Well done, mate. Great result!

John Howard to spend his last day in Leichhardt

$30 Million for Cape Roads Labor's plans for infrastructure and education to strengthen the economy. Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan visited Cairns yesterday  to highlight Labor's plans to invest in critical infrastructure and skills to strengthen the local economy. Only a Federal Labor government has plans to build the productive capacity of Australia and regions like far north Queensland. A Rudd Labor government will invest $15 million into the Peninsula Development Road as the centrepiece of a $30 million plan for roads connecting remote communities in Cape York and the North West. Labor's $30 million plan includes:
  • $15 million to seal the final 15km of the Peninsula Development Road between Lakeland and Laura and improve five to 10 creek crossings north of Laura,
  • $4.5 million towards sealing the Wills Development Road between Gregory Downs, 230km north of Mount Isa, and Burketown, which is currently cut off in the wet season, and
  • $10.5 million to provide more sealed road, gravel road and creek crossings to remote communities in Cape York.

Federal Labor's funding will be matched dollar for dollar by the State Government.

"The Howard government has ignored the Far North for 11 long years, but with strong local candidates like Jim Turnour, Federal Labor is ready to start investing in skills and vital infrastructure that will build stronger communities," Mr Swan said.

Newsflash Newsflash 

John Howard is arriving in Cairns tonight at 10pm, a FNQ reception will be waiting for him when he takes his walk along the Cairns Esplanade tomorrow morning. I hope he enjoys it. Liberal polling must be showing that Leichhardt is lost to the Liberals otherwise John would not be spending his last day here.

Although I am on the do not call list, last night I had a personnel call from John Howard and tonight I have had a call from Ian Crosslands of the Nationals the coalition is really pulling out all stops to retain Leichhardt. I still think they are wasting their time.

The Lost Explorer

After today, I'm looking forward to him spending his last day in Kirribilli House.

Only two days to go.

Labor candidate for Leichhardt Jim Turnour announced that there will be a Fair Work Australia office in Cairns.

Federal Labor believes Australian employers and employees deserve access to a one-stop-shop on industrial relations matters, rather than the alphabet soup of workplace agencies that currently exist under the Howard Government.

Federal Labor has today announced that local employers and employees in Far North Queensland will be able to rely on Fair Work Australia for:

  • Information and assistance;
  • Advice on bargaining and agreement making;
  • Compliance & enforcement;
  • Assistance to small business; and
  • Help with resolving grievances and disputes.

Staff at the Cairns office of Fair Work Australia will be able to travel to businesses anywhere in Far North Queensland at their request.

Businesses and employees won't have to go to a Fair Work Australia office to get help; officers from the Cairns office of Fair Work Australia will come to them.

Federal Labor will get rid of the Howard Government's unfair Work Choices laws and replace them with a simple, fair and flexible industrial relations system for all Australians.

The Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters, was joined by Greens candidate for Brisbane Elizabeth Guthrie at a Bardon childcare facility this morning to launch the Greens Launching the Greens' Family policy Caring for Parents and Kids.

"Australians are working longer hours, and are now seeing the effect this is having on the wellbeing of their families," said Ms Waters.

"Many working parents are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their family responsibilities in the new workplace environment. The Greens are calling for a number of measures that will provide necessary support for parents," said Ms Waters.

"It's time all Australian parents had access to paid parental leave - there is no excuse for not having a government funded scheme.

Prime Minister John Howard is as much of a nuisance as a telemarketer.

The Edmonton man is on the Federal Government’s Do Not Call register but when he received an unsolicited pre-recorded call from Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday night, he was riled.

"I wasn’t impressed," Mr Hale said.

"He started ranting on with all his lies.

"I only listened for a few moments.

"I thought it was just rude."

Mr Hale said he had tried to phone Mr Howard’s office to complain, but could not get through.

 As we move into the final days of the 2007 election the Liberal party is really dipping into its box of dirty tricks. Beware of false pamphlets put out by the Liberal party to scare Labor voters.

The fake documents claim to be from the Islamic community and they are designed to turn voters away from Labor.

Odd are shortening in Leichhardt

Sporting Bet odds are still shortening in Leichhardt.

ALP candidate Jim Turnour $1.90

Liberal candidate Charlie McKillop $1.70

Like Eden Monaro, Leichhardt is a true bell weather electorate and has for the last fifty years had a member who belonged to the sitting government.

It is going down to the wire this time. I have been driving the Labor election trailer around Cairns the last few days getting lots of honks and thumbs up. The support for Labor in Cairns is tremendous and the Labor volunteers on the ground far out way those of the Liberal supporters. I will be a scrutineer in a local polling booth on Saturday will let you know how it goes on Saturday night.

Greens policies receive top marks.

Greens policies have received top marks from third parties across a variety of issues in the federal election campaign.

Releasing a list of policy scorecards today, lead Senate candidate for Queensland Larissa Waters said the Greens had received widespread support from industry and lobby groups.

“Whether it be climate change, health, education or WorkChoices, our policies have met with the approval of the experts and advocacy groups,” Ms Waters said.

“The number one issue in this campaign has been global warming and only the Greens have an achievable plan to limit greenhouse emissions and transfer our economy from its reliance on oil and coal to renewable energy.”

“This is why leading environment groups the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Big Switch and the Climate Institute have given our climate change policies top marks.”

“Our health policy has been backed by the National Rural Health Alliance and the Doctors Reform Society, both of whom recognise the value of pooling state and federal health funds and spending them on the basis of need. We will significantly boost primary health care, including mental health services, and address the critical shortage of doctors and nurses.”

“In education, both the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the National Tertiary Education Union have praised our policies, which will boost funding to public schools and universities, and abolish HECS.”

“Industrial relations has been a drawcard for workers. Many unions have welcomed the Greens policy, in particular our commitment to abolish WorkChoices in full.”

“The Greens went into this election with comprehensive policies covering all aspects of political life. Unlike the old parties, we haven't rolled out the pork barrels of new spending totalling more than $60 billion.

Instead, we will use the $34 billion in tax cuts on vital government services such as health, education and public transport.”

The real opposition this election is the Greens. If Australia really wants a change of government, may I suggest you have a good look at the Green policies, not so much "Me Too" there.

Greens a strong voice for rural Australia.

“No wonder Ron Boswell is worried about the rising Green vote. It’s because the Greens are a strong voice for rural Australia on climate change, water, biosecurity and quarantine.

“Just ask the citrus growers at Emerald or the taro growers from North Queensland who has taken up their issue – the answer is not the Nationals’ Ron Boswell, but the Greens’ Christine Milne.

“The Nationals have turned their backs on their own farming constituents by continuing to doubt climate change and its link to the drought.

“If Ron Boswell was genuinely concerned about Queensland workers, he would be supporting the Greens’ climate change and renewable energy policies, which will safeguard the 63,000 jobs based around the Great Barrier Reef and build on Australia's existing 20,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector.

“Queenslanders have a choice between a party that has no long term vision for the state, or a progressive party with policies to secure the future on issues like climate change, water, sustainable agriculture, good quality public health and education and respecting human rights.

“Queensland stands to gain economically, environmentally and socially from a low carbon economy, but Ron Boswell would have us continue with last century thinking and miss the boat on these new opportunities.

Whether you vote for Liberal or Labor on Saturday take out some insurance by voting for the Greens in the Senate. Climate Change is the challenge we all face and both major parties will need the prodding of a Green vote in the Senate to make sure they act to reduce our carbon emissions.

Labor promises $900 million for veterans and their families

Labor will work hard to achieve six goals for veterans:
 To restore the value of compensation and prevent further erosion due to unfair indexation.
 To heal our veterans both mentally and physically, providing the very best support.
 To care for the families of veterans, in recognition that it is not just veterans themselves who make
personal sacrifices to defend our country.
 To empower veterans, giving them a strong leadership voice and due recognition.
 To improve the operation of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
 To recognise courage and sacrifice, through support for appropriate commemorative activity.
The measures in this document have been developed through listening and consulting with veterans
and ex-service organisations on their needs for now and for the years ahead. In total the commitments
in this document are worth more than $900 million of funding over the next four years.

Labor has promised more than $900 million over the next four years to help veterans and their families recover from war related injuries both mental and physical. The Howard government has been quick to send our troops to foreign wars, but slow to support them when they return. We must not forget those that have sacrificed their health for our country.

Richard:  John, I haven't got to formatting your last two posts yet. Could you do us a favour, when using such large blocks of releases, to retype them into the box?   

New health clinic for Vets a vote winner for Labor in Leichhardt






Joel Fitzgibbon MP


Shadow Minister for Defence

Alan Griffin MP


Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Jim Turnour - Candidate for Leichhardt




Cairns will be home to one of the first of Federal Labor’s proposed Defence Family Healthcare Clinics.

The clinics will extend free GP and general dental services to the spouses and dependants of those serving in the Cairns area.

The Cairns clinic will house a GP half of each day five days per week with a nurse all day, and a dentist and a dental nurse all day five days per week.  The services will be free for all Defence families.

The proposal is part of a $33.1 million proposal to roll our 12 clinics across Australia and will be expanded if the implementation proves successful.

The scheme will focus on regional and remote defence communities and is aimed at recognising the service of ADF personnel, the sacrifices their families make, and raising Defence Force retention rates.

Australia’s national security will be a first priority for a Rudd Labor Government and taking care of ADF personnel and their families is crucial the defence of our nation.



There are a large number of Royal Australian Navy personnel based in Cairns this announcement will go down well and may just be an election winner for Labor. 

Rudd Govt, Leichhardt Liberal?

Hi John - just a quick observation which might have already been dealt with earlier ... With all of my experimentation with Antony Green's calculator, Leichhardt stays Liberal with any plausible swing up to a 40-seat Labor majority ...

Yes Leichhardt needs a 10.3 percent swing

David: yes Leichhardt has always needed a 10.3 percent swing to Labor. The reason I think this is on the cards is the sitting member Warren Entsch has retired. The Labor candidate Jim Turnour,  received 31,022 votes last election and Liberal 46,571 votes two party preferred, a total of 77,593 votes. There are now 94,000 registered voters in the electorate due to the rapid growth of the Cairns metropolitan area

Let's do some quick sums: new metro voters 17,000 let's say 55% Labor and 45% Liberal. Would give 9,350 extra votes to Labor. Liberal may also loose 5% from personal support for Entsch; this would give 3879 extra votes to Labor

Labor needs 47,001 to win.

31,022 Labor votes last election

9,300 New Labor votes

3,879 5% loss of sitting member advantage

3,879 5% National swing against Liberals

48,080 Total two party preferred victory to Labor.

I believe we may also see the Greens gain some votes and independent support for Labor is strong which may give Labor an extra 2% or another 1880 votes.

My prediction is Labor by about 2,000 votes.

Local poll has Charlie in front

CHARLIE McKillop looks set to hang on to the seat of Leichhardt for the Liberals despite a big swing against the party, an exclusive poll by The Weekend Post reveals.

But undecided voters could still hold the key to the result, with 20 per cent of people polled saying they were yet to decide who they would vote for.

The Weekend Post phone poll of 310 Far Northern residents found 41 per cent plan to vote for Ms McKillop, while 36 per cent said they would vote for Labor’s Jim Turnour.

In a remarkable turnaround, Ms McKillop climbed 4 percentage points from The Weekend Post’s poll in September, with Mr Turnour dropping eight points.

The Cairns Post has the Libs in by a nose. Its a small count with only 310 people polled and 20 per cent still saying they are undecided so it is still going to be very close. It will certainly go to preferences and I still believe Green and independent preferences will be just enough to give Labor the seat.

Greens promise to create world's largest marine park.

The Greens have called for the Coral Sea to be assessed within the next three years by the next national government, aiming for it to become the world’s largest marine park. In Brisbane today, Greens Senators Bob Brown and Rachel Siewert joined Queensland Greens senate candidate Larissa Waters to make the call. Described as ‘spectacular’, ‘awesome’ and one of the world’s unrecognised wonders, the Coral Sea has 30 coral atolls. It is a stronghold of large marine species like swordfish, billfish, turtles, sharks and tuna. “A national assessment of Australia’s marine regions is in progress, but the Coral Sea warrants a particular assessment,” Senator Brown said. “There is a need to exclude future oil and gas exploration which would pose an enormous threat to the Coral Sea, which extends over 800,000 square kilometres beyond the 350,000 square kilometres Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park.” “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority leads the world in tropical marine ecosystems studies and management and the Greens would boost the Authority’s status as world leader and extend its authority over the Coral Sea. Larissa Waters said, “The Reef supports more than 60,000 jobs in Queensland and this, as well as the Coral Sea, is threatened by climate change and the coal-promoting, forest-logging mentality of both Labor and the Coalition.” The World Wildlife Fund has begun a petition to have the Australian Government to declare the Coral Sea a "Marine Protected Area", to safeguard this underwater sanctuary for future generations. The Greens alternative energy policies for Australia will give a world lead in tackling climate change and protecting the nation’s great natural assets.

With thousands of jobs at risk in Leichhardt due to climate change the promise made by the Greens to create the world's largest marine park in the Coral Sea is getting a lot of attention. The Green vote will certainly be greater than at the last election and will probably be the edge Labor needs to win.

Greens Promise

John Pratt, how can you believe anything the Greens say after the debacle (Newhouse) here in NSW, where they have sold out their principles to support Labor? 

Most people like to be on the winning side

Alan, you can't blame the Greens for backing a winning side. Besides Howard is still too stubborn to sign Kyoto. He has made the Liberal Party a laughing stock.

Little Johnny in Cairns As the odds continue to tighten

The PM finished his Far Northern trip by promising that the first of 30 federally funded Australian Technical College campuses would be built in the city.

During a packed itinerary, Mr Howard and wife Janette met staff and patients at Cairns Private Hospital, students at the Cairns Aviation Skills Centre and workers at Hawker Pacific. Mr Howard said the $25 million college was "badly needed" to boost apprenticeships and revive careers in trades. Liberal candidate for Leichhardt Charlie McKillop said the promise of a college was the result of persistent lobbying by local industry representatives.

"Right across our workforce here in Cairns – construction, the marine industry, tourism and hospitality – there is a critical skills shortage that I know the Australian Technical College will go a long way to addressing," Ms McKillop said. Her Labor opponent, Jim Turnour, criticised the Coalition’s policy, saying the colleges already established are yet to produce a graduate.

"The Government’s ATCs operate at an average cost of nearly $25,000 per student excluding capital costs – nearly double the cost of training a student at TAFE," Mr Turnour said.

KEY independent Norman Miller has snubbed Liberal candidate Charlie McKillop by giving his preference to Labor's Jim Turnour. 

With the Leichhardt election shaping as a knife-edge contest, Ms McKillop said she was "disappointed" that Mr Miller had favoured her rival. "I know Norman Miller and have a lot of time for him," she said. "I’m surprised he has given his preference to the Labor Party." In giving his preference to Labor, Mr Miller cited the party’s indigenous affairs policy and "better record on social justice issues".

A Rudd Labor Government will invest $1.5 million in the Cairns Multi-Sport Stadium, Simon Crean, Shadow Minister for Trade & Regional Development and Jim Turnour, Candidate for Leichhardt announced today.

The project will be established in Edmonton - a major growth centre for the Cairns region which is expected to house 60,000 people by 2036. The stadium will provide much needed sport and recreation facilities in the fast growing southern Cairns Growth corridor.

‘Jim Turnour has championed this project and worked with the community to make it happen', Mr Crean said.

Today's announcement is on top of more than $250 million already committed to projects by Federal Labor to help the region plan for future growth, including:

  • - $150 million for the Cairns Southern Motorway
  • - $40 million to raise the southern approach to the Mulgrave River Bridge
  • - $ 8 million for MRI and Chemotherapy Mixer for Cairns Base Hospital
  • - $ 5 million to construct a GP Super Clinic
  • - $52.5 million for the James Cook University School of Tropical Dentistry
  • - $1.5 million for the Cooktown Events Centre
These investments are key to creating a vibrant, diverse and attractive region in Far North Queensland and are yet another example of Labor's commitment to regional and urban development. 

I have been in Townsville for a few days, I am now back in Cairns ( I think Johnny Howard is following me around). As you can see, the flow of politicians to Leichhardt is continuing: we had no less than the PM in town yesterday.

The sporting bet odds are drawing closer as we move into the final week of the election. It has the ALP at $2 and Liberal $1.78. The ALP price is continuing to shorten.

I still believe that Green preferences and now the preferences from a very popular independent Norman Miller will be the key to a Labor victory in Leichhardt.

Labor to assist one million teenagers to have good teeth.

A Rudd Labor Government will invest up to $510 million over three years to assist over one million Australian teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 with dental costs – under a targeted program – to help our kids keep their teeth in good health.

Under Federal Labor’s Teen Dental Plan families will be able to claim up to $150 towards the cost of an annual dental preventative check for each of their teenage children through Medicare.

The cost of a comprehensive dental check-up – comprising oral examination, clean, scale, and x-ray – is around $290.

In its first year of operation (from 1 July 2008) this benefit will be paid via a voucher for eligible families while we ensure that all dentists have access to Medicare provider numbers and that the necessary systems are in place.

This initiative is an important first step in Federal Labor’s longer term plan of providing broader dental coverage for Australian families through Medicare.

It is good to see Labor promising to help teenagers keep their teeth in good health. It makes no sense to have dentistry excluded from health. All trips to the dentist should be claimable on Medicare. 

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott washed his hands of the problem, claiming public dental care was a state responsibility and they should fix it.

Yet his Government spends more than $368 million a year paying 30 per cent of the cost of dental care for those rich enough to have private health insurance through the private health insurance tax rebate.

And his Government made the public dental waiting lists worse when it axed a $100 million a year contribution to public dental health programs in 1996.

The Australian Council of Social Services and the Health Services Union point out that poor public dental care has ramifications beyond the disfigurement and pain it causes the individuals who suffer from it.

Dental Elf

Look, my old Dad's a dentist and so is his youngest brother. I've grown up with dentists all my life and now I give them legal advice.   I was even asked to give a speech to the Dental Alumni Association at the University a few years ago. While the Labor [sic] policy might be of some utility, (a) it will not cover the cost of a full examination for each individual (b) generally, people never bother going to a professional until they perceive they have a problem (in the case of dentistry, when something hurts) (c) it will not cover the cost of remedying anything that is found on the initial examination.

What a sensible policy would do is to include dentistry in Medicare and fully fund the dental hospitals to reduce waiting lists for the poor. It would cost bugger all up front and save billions in health care down the track.

Oh dear, I've just put out my first policy for the by-election.

Training dentists in Cairns means local kids may stay in FNQ.

Hi Malcolm: you've got my vote. I think it is silly to see dentistry as distinct and separate from our health policy. It should be part of Medicare, anyone with a toothache knows that. The idea of a school of dentistry in Cairns is to encourage local kids to stay in Cairns. Often when they go off to Capital cities for their education they are lost to the regional area. We have a problem attracting professionals in all fields to stay in regional areas. We should decentralise most of our education facilities.

Cheers John

Lateral thinking

Thank you, John Pratt, for your vote of confidence (if not an actual vote).  I have much sympathy for your sentiment in wanting more people staying in your neck of the woods but it is unlikely to happen.

Professionalism is about public service and repaying the debt one owes either by reason of talent or education but, after almost 20 years at the bar, I've finally realised that it is also about making enough to live comfortably (not that I could do it without SWMBO). When I was a kid, the local doctor, the dentist, the pharmacist, the lawyer, even the bank manager were respected. Apart from the bank manager, they used to do heaps of free work for the poor and soak those who could afford it - but even the bank manager used to do all sorts of voluntary work on community boards or committees (generally when they had a bar attached).

All that seems to have changed. Now, I'm told I'm a "service provider", people hate my profession [vide various Webdiarists], my expertise, such as it may be, is derided and the NSW Parliament has enacted legislation that requires me to ensure that any client I have is given information about how not to pay my bill.

So, too, the traditional way of servicing rural areas has changed - people who spend years training don't seem to want to do it any more. How many towns are there without dentists, doctors, adequate hospitals? How do we change it?

Well, here's the lateral thinking. One of the things that barristers have always done is go on circuit. If people, having spent years studying to qualify, want to live in comfortable circumstances in capital cities, why not give them an incentive not to live permanently in rural areas but to do a week or so a year? All you need is the infrastructure and a certain amount of standardisation. Personally, I love going on circuit and getting away from the city for a week or so. NSW has the infrastructure to allow me to do it - it is called a Courthouse. Sometimes, I even judge Mock Trials for school students while I'm away.

Why not extend the circuit system to the health system? For serious cases identified that way, one can always transfer the patient to a city hospital with full facilities but it doesn't take an operating theatre to deliver a proper diagnosis.

Maybe we could do better with revolving practitioners.


Dr Duncan, best give your policy some teeth and expand the number of places available to train some more dentists. But wait, what about the increased number of academics need to train all those extra dental students ... ?

That aside, I have never been able to understand why dentistry was not included in Medicare from the beginning. The link between various dental problems and other aspects of health (e.g., heart disease) has been known for some time.


Well, Dr Reynolds, as always, the devil is in the detail. The reality is that the teaching dental hospitals have always used the poor as a sort of training mechanism. Dentistry is rather odd in its way because it relies so much on technique. That is why dentists graduate with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery. I know we're going a bit off-thread here but the observations are worth making.

Dad has been in practice since 1951 (and still is). Both he and Uncle Brian have tutored part-time in Dentistry and Dad used to tutor part-time in Anatomy until the University abolished it. When they graduated in the 50's, the principal emphasis was on dentures and crown and bridge work. Anaesthetics were much more primitive than they are today as was cement - we were only talking about that the other day.

I have great admiration for Dentistry as a profession because it is the only profession I can think of that has actively tried to put itself out of work by introducing fluoride. The concomitant of that is the increased access to orthodontistry which has taken up a lot of the slack. There are, however, large numbers of rural communities that do not have fluoridated water and dental problems are exacerbated by drug use (particularly heroin and cocaine - both analgesics - one of the reasons that druggies have trouble quitting - suddenly their teeth start hurting) and the predominance of sugar, particularly in soft-drink.

Do we need to train more dentists? Probably, but the only way we can do it is to fund the teaching hospitals properly. So, Dr Reynolds, the policy contained the devil just not the exact costing. Cunning bugger aren't I?

At the Walk Against Warming

At the Walk Against Warming in Cairns over 300 people marched, many holding vote 1 for the Greens placards.

Sunday 11 Nov 2007 - At the Walk Against Warming in Brisbane today, Australian Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters, slammed both major parties for failing to adopt a 2020 emissions reduction target.

"Labor and Liberal still have their head in the sand on climate change with their refusal to set 2020 targets for greenhouse gas reductions.

"Labor's 2050 target is conveniently 43 years away, and the Coalition's climate change policy could fit on the back of a postage stamp.

"The community is leading the way on climate change, with thousands of Brisbanites marching in the Walk Against Warming, and similar events happening all around Queensland.

"It's a travesty that only the Greens are listening to the community on this issue.

Labor candidate Jim Turnour has announced a plan to open a Super Clinic in Cairns. 

A SUPER clinic of general practitioners in Cairns would ease the strain on overworked public doctors, Labor says.

But Senator Jan McLucas and Leichhardt candidate Jim Turnour, who announced the plan yesterday, admitted it would be a challenge to staff the centre because of a shortage of medical workers.

Mr Turnour said the $5 million "GP super clinic" would include training facilities to attract doctors to the city.

"The reality is there are a lot of GPs in a lot of capital cities and we’ve got a fantastic location up here and lifestyle," he said.

Ms McLucas said the plan would help ease the workload of staff at Cairns Base Hospital and free up beds.

"It’s a service that will take the pressure off the people attending the emergency department at the hospital," she said.

The Demons of Leichhardt

Praise God, four weeks down and only two to go.

Many Webdiary readers (those of you who don’t live in Cairns) won’t understand how surreal it is to read comment by Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne criticising the National Party for running its own candidate in the now marginal seat of Leichhardt.  The paper describes Byrne as “a conservative supporter”, yet fails to mention he’s a member of the Liberal Party, and that he tested the waters last year for Liberal Party pre-selection – and lost to Charlie McKillop.

For the record, Kevin Byrne ran as the Nationals candidate for Leichhardt in 1987.  He was Mayor of Cairns 1992-05.  He became Mayor again in 2000, and still graces that office today, along with the heavily Liberal influenced Unity Team (please, no nazi jokes).  He is not without a certain rough charm.

Warren Entsch won four elections in Leichhardt, beginning in 1996 - without ever putting a Party affiliation on his advertising material.  Entsch was a “National”-type figure before his Parliamentary career, managing cattle stations and businesses in Cape York Peninsula while being active in the Cattlemen’s Union and Pastoral Advisory Group.  Warren joined the Liberals as his best means into Parliament and has built a strong personal following in Leichhardt using similar techniques to Independent Bob Katter Jr. in neighbouring Kennedy.  He is not without a certain rough charm.

In 2004, Warren Entsch won Leichhardt with a margin of 10.3%. 

I can understand Mayor Byrne’s frustration.  As a Liberal candidate for Leichhardt he stood to capitalise on the National/Liberal hermaphrodism up this way, and would have enjoyed a strong claim on Warren’s personal legacy.  He’s a seasoned campaigner with a high profile, and I bet there’re a few Liberals right now wishing they’d given him a go.

Instead the Nationals and Liberals are splitting the vote and causing acrimony in Leichhardt.  There’s enough bad blood between them that preferences won’t flow well.  There’s enough bad blood within the local Liberal party that blood may well flow.  It could start at any moment.  It may have already started with the planting of sexist and sexual stories around Charlie McKillop during the campaign.

Kevin Byrne (the wannabe that wasn’t) faces re-election as mayor in March 2008.  Payback time!



So Leichhardt is up for grabs.  Labour’s Jim Turnour has a real chance.  If he wins it will be through a low primary vote for the coalition, and a steady flow of preferences from a large majority of minor parties and independents to the ALP.  In a field of 11, Jim will be grateful for a 9 on the ballot as long as Crossland is 10 and McKillop 11.

If I was a betting man I’d take 2-1 for a new electric bicycle.

But I’m also 53 years old, and I remember some of the great electoral disappointments, in 1975, 2001 and 2004.  One of my old mate’s old mum used to say “If you expect the worst, you won’t ever be disappointed”.  So deep in my core, I hold the fear that JoHo has done a deal with Satan and will be re-elected on 24 November, and hope will be extinguished.  Darkness will multiply upon the land.

There it’s out.  I have fear.  Fear is the mind killer.  I must let my fear pass through me.  Its passage will reveal the causes of the fear, and the weakness to be addressed.  Then I’ve got to do what’s in my power to assist the election to office of Jim Turnour.  My mate. 

I’m voting Green first, everywhere.

Chance to double your money

SENIOR members of the Liberal Party fear Charlie Mckillop's chances on polling day are slim with some already predicting a win for Labor rival Jim Turnour.

Mr Turnour yesterday said the task of winning against Ms McKillop was "like climbing K2" considering the 10.3 per cent margin he faced.

But a Liberal insider believes Labor is set to win Leichhardt with help from preferences from the Greens and independents such as Norman Miller.

"I think Jim is slightly ahead at this stage, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up over the next two weeks," the source said.

"The Greens will do better than the last election, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they polled above seven per cent, which will help Turnour.

"Also keep an eye on Norman Miller, because I think he’ll poll around three per cent (about 2400 votes) and with the Greens preferences that will be a handy boost to Labor."

Sporting Bet still has the Labor candidate Jim Turnour at $2.20. Both Labor and Liberal polling has Labor winning. Liberal chances are diminished by the split in the Tory vote with the Nationals also running a candidate - Ian Crossland. Sue Cory from the Greens is doing well, as is the independent candidate Norman Miller. From my experience of the past few weeks door knocking, on street stalls, and now at the pre polling booths in Cairns, there is strong support for Labor.  So if you want a chance to double your money, time to get your bet on.

The independent candidate Norman Miller, an indigenous artist, has created a gunyah, which has Howard telling an Aboriginal man, "The apology only applies if you have a mortgage". Mr Miller said, "Howard has denied apologising to people with mortgages for this week's interest rate rise". Mr Miller said this shows that Mr Howard is only prepared to say sorry to those with voting power. It also shows how powerless and marginalised many aboriginal people are in this nation. He said, "government polices made it difficult for indigenous people to achieve the great Australian dream of home ownership".

Interest rate rise hurts the weakest in our society.

QUEENSLAND'S corruption watchdog will investigate how Labor election pamphlets ended up in a Stratford woman's vehicle registration letter.

Margaret Smart told The Cairns Post she was angry when she opened the State Government-sent envelope to find two flyers urging her to "Vote Labor".

The campaign material, which Ms Smart received more than a week ago, claimed that Prime Minister John Howard planned to build "a nuclear reactor in your community".

"I was annoyed," Ms Smart said.

She said a senior officer from the government’s mailing house who called her conducted an internal investigation into how party material could be included in an official letter.

Oops election material in official mail - now that's a real crime. Howard has been doing it for months.

Liberal Candidate Charlie McKillop has conceded that an increase in interest rates will hurt families in Far North Queensland. Labor Candidate Jim Turnour has criticised the Prime Minister for breaking his promise to keep interest rates low.

Mr Turnour said that about 3500 families in Leichhardt will come under mortgage stress as a result of the rate rise. A survey of people in Cairns yesterday indicated that most expect another rate rise in December.

Interest rates

John Pratt:

Labor Candidate Jim Turnour has criticised the Prime Minister for breaking his promise to keep interest rates low.

Mr Turnour said that about 3500 families in Leichhardt will come under mortgage stress as a result of the rate rise. A survey of people in Cairns yesterday indicated that most expect another rate rise in December.

If Rudd wins on November 24th how will interest rates rise under a "fiscal conservative"? What is this new buzz-word "mortgage stress"? If you borrow money and do not factor in rate rises you are a bloody idiot.

Don't mention the war

This year has proved to be the deadliest year for US troops in Iraq so far, with the death toll now the highest since the March 2003 invasion.

At least 852 American military personnel have died this year, according to figures compiled by Associated Press.

As the election moves into the final week or two, no one is mentioning the war. If you look at the latest US casualty figures it is hard to imagine that all is going as well as the US would have us believe.  One of the big differences between Labor and Liberal is the fact that Labor will begin a withdrawal of troops in Iraq. This war is still the biggest mistake of the Howard government and reason enough to vote his government out.

The War

John Pratt, Just another Labor con. Rudd is only going to pull out a few troops, but Labor faithfuls only manage to listen to what they want to hear. I agree with you however that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Everybody should pull out and let the Iraqis destroy themselves.

TWO overpasses are the key

TWO overpasses are the key planks of Labor's pledge to ease traffic congestion in Cairns's growing southern suburbs. 

Labor yesterday announced the overpasses would be built at intersections with Ray Jones Drive and Sheehy Rd as part of its $150 million upgrade of the Bruce Highway in Cairns.

Jim Turnour, the Labor candidate, accompanied by opposition transport spokesman Martin Ferguson, promises to improve Cairns traffic congestion. Money is flowing to Leichhardt from all directions.

Meanwhile, Charlie is getting tough on crime.

Liberal Candidate for Leichhardt Charlie McKillop has presented a plan under which trial judges would consult the jury before passing sentence on a convicted criminal.
“The Coalition believes we need to be sending a tougher message to criminals. I consider that juries should be allowed to provide confidential advice to Judges on the appropriate penalty,” Ms McKillop said.

In the United Kingdom, jurors in 2321 cases were asked whether or not the sentence handed down regarding the cases on which they served were roughly what they were expecting. Nearly one third (32%) believed that they were, with the same percentage of people having formed no opinion as to what an appropriate sentence would be. The remaining third who considered the sentence unsatisfactory were divided between those felt it was less severe than they would have liked (23%), and those who believed the sentence to be less lenient than it should have been (14%).  These statistics support findings showing the diversity of public opinion regarding sentencing.

From research done in the United Kingdom it seems that allowing jurors a say in sentencing would have no effect. More likely it would open avenues of appeal and be a much more costly process. It is election time and there is always a vote or two in being "tough" on crime.

Margo: Hi John. Link for UK research?

Link for UK research

Margo, here is the link sorry must have missed it.

Gunpowder treason and Cracker Night

"Please to remember, The Fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot; I see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot."

Guy Fawkes is notorious for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was probably placed in charge of executing the plot because of his military and explosives experience. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was an attempt by a group of English conspirators to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the aristocracy by blowing up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament.

A common phrase is that Fawkes was "the only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions".

As a boy we looked forward to "Cracker Night" the 5th of November. For weeks before we gathered wood, tyres and paper. We built massive bonfires on any available vacant land. We made a effigy of poor old Guy Fawkes and sat him on top of the bonfire. All the shops sold "Crackers" and we urged our parents to buy up big. At last the sun set and we light the fires. "Threepenny bungers" we a favourite, we had "Tom Thumbs" small with many tied in a bundle. There were "wagon wheels" that spun around if a firey display, jumping jacks and sky rockets. The morning after we collected "Fizzers" and tried to bring them back to life. Oh those were the days. Now are kids are glued to the electronic gadgets and miss out on a lot of the fun we had.

If only we took our politics as seriously as poor old Guy.

Greens ambitious $3 billion renewable energy scheme.

THE Greens yesterday unveiled an ambitious $3 billion Sun Fund renewable energy scheme in Cairns.

Queensland Senate candidate Larissa Waters said the 10-year project aimed to set Australia up as a world leader in renewable energy innovation and installation.

"The Sun Fund is the sort of serious investment in renewable energy Queensland needs to see to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect the Great Barrier Reef, which is at great risk from climate change," she said.

"Coral bleaching from increased water temperatures jeopardises the livelihood of 63,000 people who earn a living off this Queensland icon and threatens the tremendous biodiversity the Great Barrier Reef supports."

The Sun Fund would also transfer the $300 million in Federal Government subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Ms Waters said it would provide significant on-going investment to underpin research, development, commercialisation and capacity building across a broad range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

The danger to the Great Barrier Reef from global warming is a big worry to many people in Leichhardt whose jobs depend on tourism. The Greens are serious about protecting the reef. We need action now before we lose one of our greatest assets.

The Greens could win a QLD Senate seat.

The Greens are in their best position ever to win a Queensland Senate seat, following the lodgement of group voting tickets (Senate preferences) at noon today.

The Greens in Queensland will receive second preferences from the ALP, the Carers Alliance and What Women Want. The Greens will also receive preferences high up from the Democrats, Climate Change Coalition and other micro parties and independents.

The Greens in Queensland will preference the Carers Alliance, What Women Want and independents, before sending preferences to the Climate Change Coalition, the Democrats and then the ALP.

The Greens in Queensland placed Pauline Hanson in last place, with the Liberal/ National Coalition second last and Family First third last.

“The time has come to end Coalition dominance of the Senate, to get the Senate working as a house of review not a rubber stamp,” said Larissa Waters, Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland.

The Greens have a good chance of winning a Senate seat in Queensland. Labor second preference go to the Greens. Send a message to both major parties: vote Green in the Senate and Green in the Lower House.

Onya, John

Hi John. This is a great thread - informative and fascinating. We know from your reports that despite its margin, Leichhardt is definitely in play, in a very North Queensland way.  Well done! I wonder, would anyone else like to do a similar thing in their seat?

And Alan, do you reckon Leichhardt will fall to Labor?  

To Labor

Margo, no Leichhardt will not go to Labor. I think it is wishful thinking on John's part. The betting does not show it. By the way, John, if you are going to report, tell it like it is, not like you want it to be.

Renewable Energy Employment

Alan, John, you might be interested to read that Germany's renewable energy industry already employs more than 170,000 people and exports almost 5 billion Eoros (more than 2/3 of Australian coal exports) worth of technology per annum, forecast to increase to 500,000 jobs and 80 billion Euro in exports by 2020. This in a country with several hours less sunlight per day than Australia. We will be left behind when the resources boom ends and Australian coal miners will be thrown to the wolves of 'market forces'.

Politicians by the planeload; Leichhardt still on a knife's edge

Hi Margo, yes Cairns has had its share of politicians in the last week. We have been visited by Kevin Rudd, Peter Garrett, Alan Griffin (shadow vet affairs minister) and senate candidate Doug Cameron. From the Coalition we have seen Peter Costello, Mark Vaile, and Joe Hockey. I think both parties realise that Leichhardt is sitting on a knife's edge.

Knife edge

John Pratt, I just read this: "I said to Kevin, 'Hey mate, sorry for the stuff-up,'" Garrett said.

"That's the end of the matter as far as he's concerned and as far as I'm concerned." Rudd said.

It's a bit like the Two Ronnies: it's goodnight from me and it's goodnight from him. I think as the swinging voters listen to these two clowns they are going to do a rethink. I wonder how many phone calls Whitlam got from Cairns & co with the words "'Hey mate, sorry for the stuff-up"?


Alan Curran, I am a little mystified just what is about Howard you like?

Is it the War in Iraq?

FORMER Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser has described the war in Iraq as an "unmitigated disaster"

The Iraqi debacle is certainly the most spectacular of Howard’s security policy failures. What of the rest of its record?

This too is in part a consequence of Iraq, because that black hole has been sucking up scarce resources which should be available for more useful endeavours. The deteriorating security position in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida and the Taliban continue to rack up successes, is at least partly due to the drain on Coalition resources in Iraq.

Is it Howard's policies on global warming? 

It should be recognised that the Prime Minister has come a long way in the last six months in accepting that we need to set a domestic carbon price and that we shouldn’t wait until every other nation is involved in a global emissions trading scheme.

But without targets to reduce emissions, no climate change policy has credibility. The Australian public, Australian investors and Australia’s environment all need a target to ensure certainty and a secure future.

While the Prime Minister’s response stressed economic issues, the reality is that Australia’s economy is at much greater long-term risk if decisive action on climate change is not taken immediately. Economic modelling has shown that an early and effective price signal on carbon, matched with clean energy targets and energy efficiency will ease the economic costs and limit price increases for consumers and industry.

And unless we act decisively Australia will remain marginalised from the 21st century global, clean-energy economy — worth $75 billion in 2005 and expected to grow into a $225 billion a year industry within a decade.

Internationally, Australia is lumped alongside the US as a rogue state in the fight against global warming. We are attacked for being, per head, the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

Today, as Australians look anxiously at their parched landscapes, evaporating rivers, declining rainfall and record temperatures, Howard is facing a national revolt over his stand on climate change. In the past year, the public, prominent business leaders and the state premiers have all rejected the simple, immutable doctrine he pursued for almost a decade: that he would not act to put a price on greenhouse gas pollution caused by the industries that have enriched Australians as surely as they have caused global warming. 

Is it Border Security?

“Border protection” is a Howard government mantra. But now it appears that, quite aside from the scandalous instances of Australian citizens being illegally detained or even deported from their own country, this policy has been appallingly cost-ineffective. The so-called “Pacific” solution - which involves bribing needy neighbourhood governments to house asylum-seekers on their territory - has cost upwards of $1 billion, whereas to process the same number of people in Australia would have cost less than a tenth of this amount:

… so far the cost of the Pacific Solution is $500,000 per person to process fewer than 1,700 asylum seekers. And yet there’s clear evidence that it’s cheaper, more effective and humane to process asylum seekers here on the mainland. It makes no economic sense whatsoever to house a detainee offshore at a cost of $1,830 per day when it can be done here on mainland Australia for as little as $238 per day, according to the latest estimate by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Nor is this mere fiscal carping. While Howard was busily whipping up xenophobia over a few hundred asylum-seeker unfortunates, his government’s eye clearly went off the main game in border protection for Australia. Inattention to customs and quarantine has now resulted in equine influenza escaping the very facility intended to contain such diseases. We have good cause to be grateful that what escaped was not something nastier.

 Is it Work Choices? 

John Howard predicted that some workers would be worse off because of Work Choices. Our research indicates that, for women in low-paid employment, he was spot on. Significant negative changes in the workplace have been experienced by such women but the "collateral damage" of Work Choices is being felt far beyond the workplace, reaching into the homes and the communities of these workers.

Yet the voices of working women have been largely absent from the debate about the Federal Government's radical recasting of our industrial relations system. 

Is it the new anti terror laws?

MALCOLM FRASER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: These are powers whose breadth and arbitrary nature, with lack of judicial oversight, should not exist in any democratic country. If one says, "But they will not be abused," I do not agree. If arbitrary power exists, they will be abused.

Is it Howard's ignorance on Peak Oil?

The Howard Government's miserable and voluntary target of 350 ML of biofuel by 2010 doesn't look like being achieved and there is still great resistance to requiring oil retailers to offer motorists the choice of ethanol or biodiesel. We currently ban blends of more than 10% ethanol, even though we export cars capable of 85% ethanol.

The current drought, feedstock prices and the food versus fuel dilemma will limit production until the technology is developed to make viable the conversion of cellulose in agricultural waste to biofuel.

Of great concern is research published in 2005 showing that reducing oil dependence on both the supply and demand sides must be initiated more than 20 years in advance of oil peaking to avoid a global economic meltdown. However, it is likely that oil peaking may occur much earlier than that. 

Is it Howard's lack of spending on roads? 

Howard Government was robbing Tasmania of potentially lifesaving road projects by blatantly ignoring requests to invest unspent savings from other completed road works.


Mr Cox said he was appalled that the Howard Government had repeatedly ignored these requests, which would enable audible line markings installed along the entire length of the Midland Hwy as well as wire rope barriers fitted to the notorious

 Is it Howard's distorted view of History? 

John Howard also misses the point that even stories based on factual events, the lives of real people, are subject to interpretation and depend on the viewpoint of the storyteller.

What if our leading historians had been Dutch rather than British; Chinese rather than European? How different would our celebration of Australia Day be if our history paid as much attention to the voyages of Dampier, Hartog, Leeuwin and early trade contacts in the north-west as it does to Captain Cook's east coast exploration and the origins of the First Fleet?

Is it his underfunding of his plan to fund seatbelts for kids? 

The Prime Minister’s plan to fund seatbelts on 1500 school buses nation-wide is hopelessly under funded and would not even cover Victoria’s regional school buses, let alone Australia’s, said Acting Minister for Roads and Ports, Lynne Kosky. 

Is it Howard's underfunding of education?

The Howard Government has treated education as a cost, not an investment, leaving public schools with a funding shortfall of $2.9 billion per year.

Is it Howard's underfunding of health?

It is no surprise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have such different life expectancies when the federal government alone underfunds basic Indigenous health needs by $450 million.


John Pratt, there is nothing to be mystified about: history says Labor will bugger things up again if they ever get into power. Labor is incompetent in every State - here in NSW they are a disaster. They are going to privatise the ferries, and the Transport Minister says one of the reasons is the hold the unions have over the running of the ferries. With Labor in power in Canberra the unions are going to run riot.

They are prepared to take the preferences from the Greens and then this happens today:

Protesters on kayaks and canoes blocked the Newcastle shipping channel to protest against the expansion of the coal export industry.

Greens NSW senator Kerry Nettle was one of the protesters while hundreds lined the shore demonstrating with banners and placards.

Senator Nettle claimed the action had delayed the transport of coal which when burnt would put 1.66 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

"If Labor and the government were serious about stopping climate change they would have a plan for the transition from dirty coal to renewable energy, but they don't," she said".

As the miners lose their jobs in the Hunter, I wonder what Greg Combet thinks about it all. Kerry Nettle and the rest of the Greens part time politicians are a danger to everybody.

What price a miner's job?

Alan Curran, millions are going hungry, the planet is dying, but don't worry, it all worth a few jobs in the mining industry?

Miners jobs

John Pratt, don't tell me about miners jobs but get yourself out of Leichhardt where you are backing a loser, and get out and tell the miners they should all retrain. I am sure Greg Combet, Peter Garrett and Bob Brown will go with you. They will love you down in the Hunter, especially with you union background.

Margo: Alan, you and John MUST meet! Perhaps we could video you over a beer. 

Mining Union happy with Labor target

But the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says the target will not cost jobs.

The CFMEU's Tony Maher says employers are relaxed about the Opposition's plan.

Alan, it may surprise you but the miners seem happy with Labor's plans on climate change. What makes you think I have a union background? I don't have a union background, but if I did I would be proud of it. I have a military background, but you and your mates like to taint everyone with a union brush.

Luck of the draw the candidates take up their barrier positions

Independent candidate Selwyn Johnson drew the coveted number one position. The Ballot Paper will look like this.

                                                                             Sportingbet odds

1.     Selwyn Johnston       Independent                          $21        

2.     Bridgette Lennox      Democrats                             $21

3.     Tony Hudson             Independent                          $21

4.     Norman Miller            Independent                          $21

5.     Ian Crosslands          Nationals                                $21

6.    Jim Turnour                 Labor                                       $2.20

7.     Sue Cory                   Greens                                       $21

8.     Ben Jacobsen           Family First                                $21

9.     Charlie McKillop       Liberal                                         $1.62

10.   Rata Pugh                Independent     (A late entry)       $21

11.   Damian Byrnes        Independent                                  $21

A late entry, Rata Pugh, has run for the seat of Leichhardt in previous elections. He picked up 439 votes in 2001 running on an anti-globalisation platform.

A late scratching, you will notice that one of the independents has been scratched. Peter Sandercock lacked the number of signatures required, he only had 30 signatures; the requirement is for 50.

The favorite is still  Charlie McKillop but  the word on the track is a lot of money is going on Jim Turnour who is looking good and has trained well.

Margo: Yes, I just read that Labor is having a look at Leichhardt. Noticed a flow of ALP and Coalition frontbenchers up there lately, John?

It's not a horse race.

John Pratt, I clicked on your link to Jim Turnour and saw this comment from him:

"...the majority of Leichhardt's working families struggle to make ends meet as they face increasing grocery bills, higher petrol prices and huge rents and mortgages".

As you seem to know Turnour very well perhaps you could ask him how Labor is going to bring down grocery bills and the price of petrol and reduce their mortgages. I have emailed Rudd and Swan with this question but have not heard a thing.

Trained well

John Pratt,   "The favorite is still  Charlie McKillop but  the word on the track is a lot of money is going on Jim Turnour who is looking good and has trained well".

The latest odds from Centrebet are McKillop 1.57, Turnour 2.25, you say a lot of money is going on Turnour, if that is so that should bring the odds down but he has blown in the betting.

Having that clown Garrett up there cannot have helped Labor. As I predicted a while ago just watch as Labor blows it. It looks as though Garrett has started things off by letting the cat out of the bag. If Labor wins it looks as though the country will be run the way it was at the beginning of the Whitlam era. Just Rudd, Gillard, Combet and Shorten, with Burrows calling the shots from the shadows.

Peace Now – Vote HoWARd OUT!

2 November 2007: A meeting of Cairns peace activists last night resolved to do what they can to ensure the defeat of the Howard government on November 24.

The meeting, organised by local group Peace by Peace, heard from ALP candidate for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour. Discussion and questions went for an hour and, after the candidate left, Peace by Peace resolved to support Mr Turnour’s candidacy in Leichhardt as an alternative to the Coalition government.

Liberal candidate Charlie McKillop sent her apologies to the meeting, while Nationals candidate Ian Crossland didn’t respond in any way to his invitation.

25 people at the meeting resolved to encourage all Leichhardt voters to give their effective preference to Mr Turnour at the November 24 elections, and to put Coalition candidates last in the Senate.

The meeting also resolved to conduct “peak hour peace vigils” on afternoons leading up to the election. This will consist of a small number of activists attending a busy main road between 4.30 – 5.45 pm on weekday afternoons and displaying signs urging a change of government and an end to war.

The first “peak hour peace vigil” took place this afternoon, at the outbound lane of traffic on the Cook Highway, at the corner of Sheridan St and Collins Avenue, starting at 4.30 pm.  It's a great low-energy, low cost way of reminding people about the war as they prepare to vote.  There were many positive gestures and horn toots, and only a few grumpy ones.

All peace activists welcome. Peace by Peace will conduct similar vigils as resources permit over the coming three weeks, and will make Friday afternoons at Sheridan and Collins a regular gig. 

What the wars are really about

Hi Bryan,

I commend you for your efforts, but grassroots activism will not bring about peace in this world, even if we rid ourselves of Howard. There is a "giant" issue underlying the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and that is the fact that we are running out of cheap energy to fuel our motoring lifestyle. Rudd has only committed to removing our troops from Iraq, not Afghanistan – he would support the war there, but not in Iraq, for reasons that I find questionable.

If you look at a world map, the US has now encircled Iran. It has Iraq on the left and Afghanistan on the right. The most direct route for an oil or gas pipeline from China to the Middle East is through Afghanistan into Iran. But the US wants to keep China under strict control, so that's unlikely to occur.

The most direct (and probably practical) route for an oil or gas pipeline between India and the Middle East is through Pakistan to Iran. But the Bush administration has kept the pressure on Pakistan to stop that happening.

The only direct route for an oil or gas pipeline between the Caspian Sea region to a warm water port is directly south through Iran.

This is why Iran is so critical to US interests, because they are the pivotal point for Middle Eastern and Caspian Sea oil and gas supplies.

Michael T. Klare wrote this just recently for The Nation:

"An awareness of this new 'Washington consensus' on the need to protect overseas oil supplies with American troops helps explain many recent developments in Washington. Most significant, it illuminates the strategic stance adopted by President Bush in justifying his determination to retain a potent US force in Iraq--and why the Democrats have found it so difficult to contest that stance.

"Consider Bush's September 13 prime-time speech on Iraq. 'If we were to be driven out of Iraq,' he prophesied, 'extremists of all strains would be emboldened.... Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Extremists could control a key part of the global energy supply.' And then came the kicker: 'Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East.' In other words, Iraq is no longer about democracy or WMDs or terrorism but about maintaining regional stability to ensure the safe flow of petroleum and keep the American economy on an even keel; it was almost as if he was speaking to the bipartisan crowd that backed the CFR report cited above.

"It is very clear that the Democrats, or at least mainstream Democrats, are finding it exceedingly difficult to contest this argument head-on. In March, for example, Senator Hillary Clinton told the New York Times that Iraq is 'right in the heart of the oil region' and so 'it is directly in opposition to our interests' for it to become a failed state or a pawn of Iran. This means, she continued, that it will be necessary to keep some US troops in Iraq indefinitely, to provide logistical and training support to the Iraqi military. Senator Barack Obama has also spoken of the need to maintain a robust US military presence in Iraq and the surrounding area. Thus, while calling for the withdrawal of most US combat brigades from Iraq proper, he has championed an 'over-the-horizon force that could prevent chaos in the wider region.'

"Given this perspective, it is very hard for mainstream Democrats to challenge Bush when he says that an 'enduring' US military presence is needed in Iraq or to change the Administration's current policy, barring a major military setback or some other unforeseen event. By the same token, it will be hard for the Democrats to avert a US attack on Iran if this can be portrayed as a necessary move to prevent Tehran from threatening the long-term safety of Persian Gulf oil supplies.

"Nor can we anticipate a dramatic change in US policy in the Gulf region from the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican. If anything, we should expect an increase in the use of military force to protect the overseas flow of oil, as the threat level rises along with the need for new investment to avert even further reductions in global supplies."

The US has the most advanced military force in the world. It certainly has the most money thrown at it. But that force runs on petroleum and energy. Without some sort of control over petroleum, the empire fails, just as both Japan and Germany's efforts did when the US deprived them of oil supplies in WW2.

We're going to need a whole lot more than peace rallies in the future. We're going to have to think how we're making these wars happen with our consumptive lifestyles. Australia's in the same boat as the US. We're just as exposed to the risks.

Only a sea change in thinking and a total, war-time commitment to renewable energy can bring that about, because only then could we say "absolutely not" to our powerful partner in crime...

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Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner